Author: Adam Pomeroy
Yesterday, PLF attorneys filed Connerly v. California in the Sacramento County Superior Court. The case challenges the illegal and unconstitutional use of race, ethnicity, and sex in selecting members to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.*
In 1996, the people of California adopted Proposition 209, amending California's constitution (Article I, Section 31) to prohibit the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, "any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."
In 2008, the people of California adopted Proposition 11, amending California's constitution (Article XXI) to transfer power over redistricting State Assembly, State Senate, and Board of Equalization districts to a Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission).
Proposition 11 also amended state law to provide the processes for creating and governing the Commission. One of those statutes, Government Code section 8252(g), requires that certain members of the Commission "shall be chosen to ensure . . . racial, ethnic, . . . and gender diversity." Choosing Commission members on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender is a direct violation of Proposition 209's mandate that no state instrumentality or entity may discriminate or grant preferential treatment on the basis "race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin."
In asking the court to bar any future use of racial, ethnic, or sex based preferences in the selection of Commission members, PLF is representing Ward Connerly and the American Civil Rights Foundation against the State of California, Elaine Howle in her official capacity as State Auditor, and the Citizen's Redistricting Commission. PLF has successfully represented Mr. Connerly and ACRF before – see here, here, and here.
The Citizens Redistricting Commission has been entrusted with the enormous responsibility of drawing California's political lines. This important endeavor must not be tainted by the unconstitutional practice of discriminating or granting preferences on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender in selecting members to the Commission.
*Note: This lawsuit challenges only the unconstitutional use of race, ethnicity, or sex in selecting Commission members. PLF is NOT challenging the maps actually produced by the Commission, nor is it involved in anyway with any effort to invalidate those maps.